Artificial intelligence (AI) is a process where computers help with the completion of tasks not simply by physically doing them but by using algorithms to mimic human decision-making.
While AI makes for terrifyingly good fodder in sci-fi movies, it does have a practical upshot in the real world: helping humans complete repetitive, time-consuming tasks more quickly. For lawyers, AI can mean more time freed up for billable hours.
AI can “read” documents far more quickly than we can— and analyze them in certain, programmed ways. For instance, if a firm frequently writes contracts for clients, AI can scan the documents and note sections that deviate from standardized wording—thereby helping lawyers know where to review.
It’s also worth mentioning that AI gets “smarter” with use. The more you use it, the better it becomes at identifying the specific patterns you’re asking it to look for.
Research can prove immensely valuable to lawyers— and it takes time. Today’s AI can help with subject-related searches that turn up precedent, case law, recommended reading, and even prior decisions by a judge.
This level of research has historically only been available to larger firms with substantial staff, but it can now theoretically (it’s still expensive!) be accessed by solos.
AI can also help firms in the e-discovery process. Basically, you can run a sample set of relevant and non-relevant documents—and effectively teach the AI program what to look for. Needless to say, this can save you and your firm countless hours of scrolling through documents during e-discovery!
But even the model of teaching AI relevant sample sets is rapidly improving. Newer forms of AI can now learn from how human lawyers sort through documents—and step in when ready, including in helping to prioritize documents.
As AI progresses in leaps and bounds, expect its benefits to become more affordable—and expect modern software to become ever more essential in running a law firm.